Continue reading Is Islam Innately Evil? Is Islam Innately Good? Why This Debate is A Waste of Time
by Barry Rubin
We all know that the number of Muslims who explicitly put forward a systematically coherent moderate theology of Islam is very small. We also know that radical Islamists pretend to be moderates and fool people in the West. We also know that foolish or dishonest people in the West claim that Islam is innately moderate; that Sharia law as it will inevitably be interpreted at present is no big deal; and that the radicals are a minority, hijackers, or will soon become moderate. People must know the truth about these issues.
However, it is also true that the number of Muslims who are anti-Islamist in politics and relatively moderate in their politics and practice of Islam number in the tens and even hundreds of millions. Their motives range from liberalism through ethnic (Berber; Kurdish) or state nationalism, conservative views that do see Islamism as improper, those who find refuge in the West and want to acculturate to it, ruling groups and their supporters who don’t want Islamists to cut off their heads, etc. These people are our actual or potential allies in the battle against Islamism, and we better understand that and find ways to work with them, even if we don’t agree on everything.
How can we find a way to blend those two different factors and combine them into a standpoint and strategy?
At a moment when we should be analyzing existing political movements, ideas, actions, and the Western failure to meet this threat there is a wasteful, unending battle that subverts the effort to understand and explain what’s happening.
In one corner, we have those who claim—and these are by far the more powerful people today, controlling academia, media, and government policies in many places—that Islam is innately good, a religion of peace. Those who are revolutionaries and terrorists simply misunderstand their own religion. Naturally, the idea that non-Muslims, who are usually quite ignorant of Islam and its history, should define Islam is ludicrous.
There are many important points the religion-of-peace crowd misses but here are five of them:
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, was published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports, and now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media
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